Carolyn Ketchum

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O: Hi and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. How are you doing? It’s Orion. You know those late afternoons when you crave something really sweet and delicious, maybe super high in carbs and sugar. I totally have a carb addiction. I went through a period in my life where I did not eat any carbs; I looked better, I felt better, and I then I just fell off the wagon and I started eating tons of carbs again. I know that in order to live a healthier life, cutting down on the sugar and eating less carb can be really helpful, especially, obviously if you have diabetes or celiac. In general, we get so much sugar in everything that we eat, everything that you buy has some sugar in it. We’re eating way too much sugar. I wanna help you with that and I wanna help myself with that. I invited one special lady, she’s one of the biggest food bloggers online today. Her website gets over one million page views per month, which is a lot. She’s a writer, a photographer, and the evil mastermind behind All Day I Dream About Food. Carolyn Ketchum is a devoted food blogger, she helps people who have diabetes, celiac, and just people who try to simply cut down carbs and have a healthy lifestyle. Her recipes and photographies has been featured in Women’s Health, glamour.com, The Huffington Post, Shape Magazine and many, many more. She says that it’s astonishing what you can do with a bag of almond flour, a stick of butter, and a willingness to experiment. When I did my low carb diet, my food was really, really boring. I think this is why I fell off the wagon because I was eating the same foods over and over again even though I know that famous bodybuilders and fitness models, they have the discipline to do so, but for me, I’m this type of person that likes color and variety and I like enjoying flavors. What I like about what Carolyn is doing is that she brings all that into a low carb diet, which is astonishing, it’s astonishing. Stay tuned. She’s gonna teach you how to do it. Now, onto the show. Hi, Carolyn. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

C: Hi. Thanks for having me.

O: Thank you for being here. I’m excited to be talking to you. Today, we’re gonna speak about your amazing success story and also about low carb diets. Why don’t you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?

C: I write a food blog called All Day I Dream About Food which I started about seven and a half years ago because after my third child was born and I had gestational diabetes with her, the diabetes stuck around so I started playing with low carbs ingredients and creating recipes. That grew and people started paying attention, I guess I got pretty good at it. I recently published a cookbook that’s all low carb. That’s what I do professionally. Personally, I have three kids and a busy life and a husband and things like that. It’s a work-life balance issue like it is for so many people.

O: You started from maybe writing a little bit about your blog to now you have 100k plus Facebook followers. Your numbers are insane. I see on your website, there is a monthly page view of over a million.

C: I have a lot of dedicated followers. They come back time after time to find my recipes. I think I put out good content, which definitely is the key for a blog, my recipes are really reliable. When people struggle with my recipes, which does happen because ingredients can vary and things like that, I’m always there to help. I always answer their questions which I think sets me apart from some other bloggers where I don’t just say, “Sorry. Tough luck. It worked for me.” I try to help them diagnose the problem. I write in a way I think people would say it’s a conversational style so people feel like they’re my friend. I have a lot of readers who say, “You feel like my best friend.” I’m like, “Yeah but we don’t actually know each other.” It grew, I think, because I put out good content but I also just make myself accessible and try to help people. I think that that really makes the difference.

O: Let’s go back seven and a half years ago, your first blog post.

C: It was awful. My first blog post wasn’t even low carb. I started it because my sister had started The Mummy blog. I thought, “That’s fun.” I started stumbling across, I was looking up low sugar recipes and I started stumbling across some food blogs because I never knew they existed. I started to read them and I thought, “I always adapt recipes and I’ve always liked to play with my food and cooking and experimenting.” I think the first one that I did which might not even be on there, I might have deleted it completely, was like homemade bread which is really funny. Within about a month, I started to focus on low carb. I have some really awful photos and pictures on there and my writing was terrible. I think it takes a while with the skill you end up developing.

O: How long did it take you before you started seeing traffic and getting your first fans?

C: A long time, actually. I had a couple of early adopters, I’ll call them, fans from the beginning almost once I started. I think what’s really hard when you start a website is figuring out how to get it out there, it’s not like Google automatically indexes you and puts you near the top of the pages, it just doesn’t happen. Finding ways to actually expose people to it takes a lot of time. I think actually a lot of food bloggers these days start their blog because they know now that it’s a recognized profession, there are lots of information on how to do it and how to do it right. I didn’t have any of that. It took a long time. I would say, to get a decent following, it took three years and then it just grew from there because then I learned more and more about how to get it out there, how to get it in front of people’s faces. You spend a lot of time doing that which is exhausting.

O: What’s a decent following?

C: I would say a decent following I think when I hit maybe 100,000 views, page reviews per month. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty good.” That’s also when brands started to pay attention. That’s a benchmark for a lot of marketing agencies when they started to go, “Do you wanna try our product? Then maybe mention it on your blog.” At that time I took a lot of freebies but then I learned that I can also say, “I’m doing work for you, you need to actually pay me to do that.” That’s fun to get money from people when they want exposure on your blog.

O: You said that you have to figure it out for yourself. What did you figure out as far as marketing yourself, marketing your blog?

C: I resisted a lot of new things along the way that now I wish I hadn’t, like Twitter. Somebody told me I needed to get on Twitter and I was like, “No way.” I just thought that’s crazy. Twitter to me at that time was the purview of someone like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, I didn’t know anything about Twitter except that they used it. I got on there and occasionally I put something on there and people would actually read it and pay attention. It took me a while to adopt the social media thing. I think learning to do that really helped promote my blog and learning to get comfortable with it because I think some of it is strange. I’m 44, I’m from a different generation than the 22-year olds who were born with a cellphone in their hand and they know how to do it from the beginning.

O: You hit 100,000, and then people started noticing you, and then what happened?

C: I think one of the things that really actually helped and helped me grow was instead of seeing other bloggers, particularly in the low carb space, as my competitors, I started to work with them. We started to share each other’s content sometimes and build each other up because it occurred to me, everybody likes recipes and everybody wants more recipes and there’s enough readers for all of us to go around. There’s no reason to feel that you’re in competition with each other. I think bonding together and creating these groups where we talk to each other and we say, “I’ve got this great new post, can you share it?” They do and then you do it for them too, that really helps. It grew more and more from working together with other bloggers instead of being a solo on my own and trying to do it alone.

O: Did they approach you? Did you approach them?

C: It’s almost like I can’t remember how it started. There were a couple of us who worked together on a collaborative cookbook, it was just a self-published book that somebody had put together. It wasn’t great but we got to know each other a little from that. There was another blogger that I got to know because we were working together with the same sweetener company. We just kept in touch a little and then I started to see bloggers in other space like dessert bloggers or people who use regular ingredients start to work together. I thought, “That’s a really good idea.” I actually started a lot of these groups where we work together. I spearheaded some of that myself.

O: When I look at you, you’re very skinny and very fit. Your blog is I always dream about food, everyday I dream about food, I don’t see you as somebody who dreams about food everyday. How do you manage that? How do you manage all your amazing yummy recipes and still you keep skinny.

C: I never had a weight problem, I do low carb because I have a blood sugar problem. I guess that’s part of it. I really do dream about food all day but it’s not like I dream about food because I can’t wait to put something else in my mouth, it’s more like food is my creative space and food is where I dream up recipes. It’s more about I really love dreaming about what I could create next. In the ketogenic world, in the really low carb world, people say, “You should get past all your cravings.” While I agree, I also think food should still be fun and it should still be cause for a celebration particularly for holidays and things like that. I think that saying that you should just use food for fuel all the time, it takes away the fun of it and the pleasure of it. For some people who’ve had weight loss problems all their life and food is a huge trigger, maybe that doesn’t work for them. I have a lot of diabetic followers, particularly parents of children with type 1 diabetes. Those kids don’t necessarily have weight problems, they just have issues. For them it’s fabulous to say, “There’s donut day at school and I can bring my own donut and I can actually have one.” For them they don’t feel left out and it makes life feel more normal. Also, one of the things that happened after having gestational diabetes was that I became dedicated to regular exercise which I love, I run and I do CrossFit and things like that.

O: When was the moment that you knew that you were in love with creating recipes, maybe sometime in your childhood or just a very vivid memory where you just knew, “I love this thing. I’ll do it for the rest of my life.”

C: I didn’t think I would do it as a career for the rest of my life. I think one of the first things I ever learned to make was French toast.

O: Tons of carbs.

C: Tons of carbs unless you make some low carb break and then you can still make it but it’s not quite the same but still it’s good. I always loved playing in the kitchen. I remember my mom had a very old copy of The Joy of Cooking which is such a basic, good reference cookbook. As an early teen, I was making the chocolate chip cookies on my own probably from the time I was 9 or 10 because I loved making them. Although I usually follow the recipe, I would also do some creative stuff with it. Sometimes I’d bake it in a brownie pan instead and have bars, I didn’t take too many chances because I felt like you needed to really follow the recipe most of the time but I do some creative stuff with it. I always like to cook but I didn’t think I’d do it as a career until I got accidentally pregnant with my third kiddo and started staying at home, then I started playing with it even more and created a career out of it.

O: Would you recommend a low carb diet for everyone?

C: I think that the vast majority of the population could really benefit from it, that is my personal opinion. It is not an expert opinion by any stretch but I think there are a lot of experts who would agree with me. I think that there are a lot of health issues that can actually be managed through a low carb diet, it’s not just for weight loss and it’s not just for diabetes. Ketogenic diets which are obviously very low carb and trying to get you to create ketones instead of burning glucose were designed originally for people with neurological disorders that cause seizures, it’s good for seizures. It’s apparently becoming very popular for cancer management because a lot of cancers feed off of sugar, restriction the sugar in your diet can help a lot. I do think that a lot of people in our society could benefit from it, I don’t wanna say everyone because that’s not my area of expertise but I think a lot of people could try it and learn something from it.

O: Italians won’t like you that much.

C: Actually, a lot of those Mediterranean countries, although pasta is a big thing, there’s also a lot of fats in their diets too, healthy fats in their diets. There’s a balance there that is missing in a lot of American foods.

O: What’s missing in American foods?

C:  A lot of healthier fats. The low fat craze was so big that a lot of companies have made all these low fat foods. What did they do to replace the flavor? They add sugar. People think animal fats are not good for you but I disagree. In my research, I’m not actually doing the research but my reading of the thing is that animal fats are actually quite good for you. I think we got away from it and we started adding a whole bunch of vegetable oils which have their own huge sets of problems. A lot of things are fried in vegetable oil and the vegetable oil has passed its smoke points and it releases chemicals that probably shouldn’t be in your food.

O: Animal fat doesn’t release that?

C: It has a higher smoke point which means you have to cook it at a really high temperature for it to burn. Extra virgin olive oil is great but it’s great as a cold oil that you put on things, it’s a finishing oil, it’s not something you’re supposed to cook in. A lot of the replacement oils are things like soybean oil and grapeseed oil and things that don’t have high smoke points. Apparently they release chemicals even including formaldehyde when they are cooked at high temperatures.

O: What cooking oil do you use?

C: I use a bunch of things, I use coconut oil a lot, I use refined olive oil or some high fat frying because it has a higher smoke point, I use a lot avocado oil, I use a lot of butter, I use a lot of lard even in certain things as long as it’s good, rendered lard from pastured pigs, usually. I use a selection of oils, I just try to be mindful of what their best use is.

O: I would think that butter have a low smoking point because it burns really fast.

C: Ghee doesn’t. Basically it’s the milk solids in butter that’s burning. If you use Ghee that has the milk solids removed then it actually has quite a high smoke point.

O: I use Ghee and I use coconut oil, these are my main two. I like those. I’ve never cooked with avocado oil. I put in on my face sometimes, organic avocado, any oils like essentials oils and all kinds of oils for my skin. Have you heard of Dave Asprey Bulletproof Diet?

C: Yes, of course I have.

O: Dave was on the show, it was episode 38. I was actually in his book launch party in Beverly Hills when he launched his previous book, The Bulletproof Diet, which is all about more like animal protein, high fats, low carbs. How would you compare your approach to his approach?

C: My understanding is he does more of a cyclic ketogenic diet which means you go keto, really low carb for a while and then you can eat a little bit more carbs, I don’t know what the cycle is whether it’s a couple days or just a day. That’s my understanding of his diet, I don’t know if he has a meal plan or anything. I just do straight up keto. I’m pretty just low carb, as a diabetic, a cyclical keto diet wouldn’t be good for me because eating those carbs would not do things with my blood sugar. I think that different people can benefit from different things. I wouldn’t suggest the cyclical keto diet for somebody who has diabetes but for other people, if they find it works for them, then great.

O: How would you define ketogenic diet?

C: Although I keep saying it’s a very, very low carb but the reality is it’s something that you do that is low carb enough to make your body create ketones and use those for fuel instead of using glucose for fuel. In my case, I probably eat maybe 20 to 25 grams of carbs a day.

O: Oh my God, that’s nothing.

C: It’s surprising. You can get a lot of that, most of it is vegetables and nuts and things. Sometimes it’s more than that. I find that when I get a lot of exercise I can handle a little bit more.

O: Your carb is probably sweet potato.

C: No, my carbs is like, sweet potatoes is very high carb so I couldn’t tolerate that, but I do a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, Zucchini, I love avocado, I love almonds.

O: Avocadoes is fats.

C: But they do have carbs. For me it’s still counting the carbs at the end of the day although I don’t really count carbs anymore, I just eat it intuitively. Sometimes I don’t do it right, I know when I don’t, I can feel it but I’m not pigging out on oreos or anything, I just may have eaten a little too much cheesecake.

O: What’s your day looks like? What do you eat in the morning?

C: I don’t love routine, I’m not a person who follows a routine. I often actually eat last night’s dinner leftovers for breakfast and I’m always disappointed if it’s all gone, then I’m like, “I have to actually make myself an egg as opposed to just heating up a chicken pie.” What I usually do is I drink black coffee in the morning probably earlier than most people, I’m not pretty early a lot of the time. By 7:00 or something, I’ve had some protein and maybe a little bit of carbs then I head out the door and I had a run or I go to CrossFit and then I come home. I usually make myself a nice big cappuccino with a combination of almond milk and heavy cream. I eat a lot of meat. Middle of the day, I’m usually either eating leftovers or I make myself bacon or have some cheese and salami and some veggies. By the end of the day, I’m eating dinner with my family, today I made braised lamb shanks which is for cookbook number two actually. It has veggies and it has both daikon radish and eggplant. It’ll have the veggies in there too but I might make a little rice for it to go with for my kids because I need to fill them up more of those, kids have huge appetites.

O: How do you handle work-life balance, cooking all those yummy things and still running the business?

C: I’m not very good at work-life balance, ask my husband. I work far too much and I’ve actually recently decided that I need to post less on my blog. I’ve noticed that posting less doesn’t actually decrease my traffic as long as I’m still promoting the good content that’s already on there which is thousands of recipes already. I probably could stand to do better work-life balance but I have three kids so it’s automatic too, I also have three kids in soccer. We have soccer pretty much everyday except Tuesdays. I have to give those kids attention because I have to drive them to and from soccer and watch their games and be there for them and help them with their homeworks. That automatically puts in some work-life balance for me.

O: Do you cook for a few days? Do you cook everyday?

C: I’m usually making something everyday but sometimes it’s not, maybe it’s a dessert, not a meal. I often cook big batches of food so that we can make it into leftovers, we love leftovers in this house. Sometimes I’ll cook dinner two or three nights in a row and then one night we’ll just have a collection of leftovers.

O: What will you cook?

C: Actually, my kids love tuna salad. Anyday, when I’m absolutely don’t feel like cooking, I just make them some tuna and they’re happy. Last week we had a time when we had some leftover pork chops, some leftover chicken and some leftover egg dish that I made. You just give everybody a little bit of each and then some vegetables and we’re all happy.

O: Nice variety. How do you handle the workload? What do you do to calm yourself down to focus and to get organized?

C: That’s another area that I could probably use. Day to day, I just go for it. What I’ve decided though recently is that I need to hire an assistant who is actually in front of me some of the time. I have an assistant and she does a lot of my social media which is fine but I’ve decided that sometimes because I create a lot of dishes, I’d love somebody to actually come into my house and help me with recipes. This would only be one or two days a week and then the rest of the day is they could be virtual and do stuff online but I’ve decided I really need someone in person to help me with the workload. That is my goal right now. I have somebody helping me find that person right now. Hopefully that’ll happen.

O: Don’t you think that one of your million unique visitors can be your assistant? I would say get somebody from your tribe because they are already aligned. If you get somebody who is a raving fan, that will be so happy to just be around you because they like you so much. You changed their life or aspire to be like you, that’ll be, I think, a good match.

C: I have thought of that actually. When I first decided that I needed an assistant, I put it out on my blog itself and I got some really great responses. The tricky part is because I want someone local to actually be in person, the readership in the city of Portland where I live isn’t necessarily as huge as they have their own jobs and their own families and stuff. I do like to have somebody who at least knows low carbs some which is a requirement and blogging some. I had a really, really, really great assistant, she was a fellow blogger and she did such good work for me and I loved her. The problem with good assistants is they end up moving on.

O: It’s a big problem, especially the best ones.

C: They end up being so good that they’re working on their own stuff. Their own stuff start taking off. I was like, “Looks like you’re getting really busy, can you help me find somebody else?” She did but now she’s actually the one, I’ve hired her back just to help me find because she knows my business so well now. I’ve hired her to help me find someone else right now that can be in person and virtual.

O: How did your book start?

C: I had a literary agent who approached me and said, “I can get you big advances with great people.” She burned her bridges with me a little. One of the way she did that was by losing me a deal with this small publisher called Victory Belt because she was pushing so hard for huge advances and I said to her, “Look I wanna work with these people, these are the right people in my space because they’ve done a lot of paleo and a lot of low carb and they’re really on the cutting edge of that. She lost me a deal with them because she was so pushy. She and I parted ways and then they came back to me and said, “We still love your work and we’d be willing to work with your agent.” I said, “That’s good because she’s gone.” We just connected and they’ve been incredibly supportive of me. I think because they’re a small publishing house, they want you to write the book that you wanna write as opposed to telling you how to write your book which was really important for me. I think it’s important for my readers because they pick up my book and it sounds like me, it sounds the way I sound on my blog as opposed to overly polished and written in a way that some editor told me, it sounds like me. They helped me weed out the errors, of course, and they give me a little guidance on how to put a book like that together. They’ve been super supportive, they’re fantastic. I’ve actually signed on for three more books with them.

O: Amazing. Congratulations.

C: Thank you.

O: I have started writing two books. English is my second language. I’m really afraid that the moment I give it to an editor, they will slay it and it won’t sound like me anymore.

C: I would say, that depends on who you’re going with, editor wise and publisher wise because yeah, some of them will.

O: I don’t want that. I get the big grammar mistakes and of course the spelling, I can’t spell broccoli. I still want it to sound like me. Stephan, my husband, would say, “This doesn’t sound like English. This is not the correct metaphor.” He’ll be really politically correct. I like saying stuff like feeling juicy, sexy and alive. This is how I speak and I want those things to be in the book.

C: I totally get that. I think part of that comes from probably being a speaker of another language, you think in terms of the way that language would talk, but you translate it into English and you totally want that. I would want that and I would try to connect with editors who will allow you some of that but also give you guidance. If they say, “This really doesn’t work for me.” You’re like, “It works for me, how can we work together to make it make sense.” Because the one thing I think you are looking for is you also want your readers to understand it.

O: Within common sense, of course. When I read Sufi or poetry, I’m like, “Sometimes I speak like that and it doesn’t sound like correct English or it doesn’t really makes sense.” Sometimes when you tell a story and you tell a story in that way, you’re actually speaking to the subconscious mind because it understands metaphors and images. People get it even though they don’t get it logically but they get it, they get the energy behind it.

C: I totally get that too because one of the things I like to do in writing which technically is not a good writing but I think it actually works is I run sentences in a way together as if I was saying them so that people feel like they’re hearing me talk. Technically some editors are gonna go, “Let’s get rid of this and put a comma here.” I’m like, “No.” Because it sounds better that way, because it sounds like I’m beside you talking to you. My editors were really good about that.

O: You just gave me a huge gift, you gave me permission to be more me in my writing which is my little insecurity. Now I’m gonna be like, “No. It’s gonna be broken English and I love it.”

C: If you read my blog, there are some sentences that run in a way but they sound good in my head and they sound like what I’d actually say. I would also say, when you’re writing it, know that’s their job but you can always say, “No, I want that back.” Write from your consciousness, write from your extreme consciousness and then be ready to fix it as you go.

O: I have a problem with your book, I have two big problems. First one, I went over it, it’s beautiful. Got so hungry, I ate a lot after just watching the images. That’s problem number one. I started salivating, my tummy started growling. I just wanna click a button and have this appear on my table right now, it looks delicious. I’m joking, it’s not a problem. One thing that I can really see in who you are online is how humble you are, even in your book, there are maybe three photos of you. You really focus on the book, you really focus on the reader. Even in your Facebook Live, you’re so real and down to earth which is I think this is why in a world full of noise where everybody are trying to be somebody, I did that sometimes where I just wanna look bigger than life because I’m like, “That’s gonna help my marketing so let me just be a little bigger than life.” You keep very true to yourself. With this large audience and this huge success that you’re having and probably just gonna grow and grow and you’re gonna have your own cooking show and you’re gonna be on Ellen and you’re gonna be bigger, it’s coming. With all this success, how do you keep you in the midst of everything without listening to the noise and the people especially if you look at Frank Kern, all his photos are near Rolls Royce and getting off of a plane. On my website, I have a photo with a private jet which I like. How do you keep that? How do you keep this so raw and real?

C: I hope I do. When I was on my book tour and I met so many readers, people thank me for my recipes which is so nice. They’re saying to me, “Your recipes helped me so much.” They don’t understand that I feel so lucky. I’m making a career out of cooking and baking. If my recipes help you, that is fantastic, that is icing on the cake for me. I think it keeps me humble because my readers keep me humble, they’re thanking me and that’s lovely. I feel like I’m at their service and that’s good. I guess it’s a partnership. I certainly hope I don’t get a big head. I think my husband would keep me from having a big head, my husband and my kids would probably be like, “No mom, you’re not that big a deal.” I think that I’ve always connected with them on a real level. If that changes, then my audience won’t pay attention anymore and they won’t like me. I can’t let it change. I think that it makes me different from other bloggers because I make myself so accessible and sometimes it’s to my detriment because I’m exhausted by answering reader emails and questions but I grew because of them. I’m not taking that for granted.

O: Here is the second problem I have with your book. My husband is a vegetarian. As much as I wanna make all these recipes, it’s almost like it’s a bummer because I’m making it for myself and eating with myself. I can’t share it with him and I do like carbs, especially lately, I just came back from India, I ate so much carbs. I’m trying to curb my desire for carbs which is hard. I also wanna ask you about that. When I look at vegetarian food, it’s like beans and lentils and farts. I make a lot of beans with lentils but then my tummy doesn’t like that that much. In India, that was a problem but Indian foods in India is just not as hygienic, even in the best restaurants. How do you help somebody like me? It’s so funny, my husband and I, we’re two different cultures, we’re complete opposite. He’s now a pescaterian, I am an omnivore, I eat everything that’s on my plate. What will be your advice for me?

C: Maybe not in the book especially for the initial cookbook where I had to cover everything. I made things that were family sized meals but almost everything can be scaled down for one person or two people or just to make two servings and then you have a serving for the next night too. I started to do that a lot in my blog because a lot of my readers live alone or it’s just them and their husband. I started making these mini recipes, I’ve done it mostly with dessert but dinner can easily be scaled down too. The good thing about dinner recipes is they can often make great leftovers or you can freeze them. I do a lot of that. Making two dinners for people, that’s tough. I used to make a lot of two meal nights because I’d be making something my kids wouldn’t like and then I decided they have to grow up at some point and start experimenting.

O: When we started our relationship, I used to cook way more. It was like, “Let me just be everything and do everything.” It was always cooking for him and cooking for me, it’s always double dinner, double dinner, same breakfast. Now, as my business is expanding and I’m working on my stuff, it’s exhausting. I used to be way more dedicated to my nutrition and the fitness, now I’m more loose. I wanna get back to being more focused. It’s almost like sometimes I won’t cook because I know that I have to cook two things. I’m like, “I’m tired. I’m going to go to sleep.”

C: I don’t think there’s any problem in finding places that you guys both like, a restaurant that does take out that you guys both like because it has some vegetarian options. I have those places on speed dial.

O: You eat outside?

C: The common ground foods. If he’s a pescatarian, then there are certainly fish recipes that you guys can both enjoy. It’s really tough. My husband, since he doesn’t cook much anymore, he likes to cook.

O: Stephan never cooks. It’s me, myself and I.

C: That’s tough. I don’t have any secret things there except maybe making some things for you that are bigger batch that you can freeze because I love my freezer, it makes my life easier when we have a big batch meal and I could put half of it away.

O: What’s your favorite thing to eat?

C: I’m not a creature of routines. I love so many flavors and so many things. Bacon is right up there though. I have always said that if I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be smoked salmon because I love it. It’s the perfect protein and it’s great fat, some proteins, all in one package.

O: What would you recommend someone who wants to transition from a regular American diet to a ketogenic diet? How should they make this transition?

C: I think you should go cold turkey, to be honest. It’s gonna be hard. There’s something called the keto flu which is where your body is basically detoxing from sugar to switching over to being what they call a fat burner. If you try to do it in stages, it takes longer and prolongs the agony. That sounds really awful. It doesn’t have to be as awful as that but I think going cold turkey and being like, “I’m doing this diet and I’m committing to it. I know I’ll have a couple weeks of feeling a little less energy and possibly not well because my body doesn’t really know what it’s doing at this point and make it through those two or three weeks and gut it out and then I’ll be ready to go.”

O: What do you do if it’s late night and you’re watching Ninja Turtles and they eat a big slice of pizza and you start crying?

C: There’s actually a really good keto pizza. I’ve developed another dough, it actually uses mozzarella. It’s mozzarella and almond flour and eggs. It actually is very much like pizza dough. Okay fine, I have to make it myself so I can’t just call up the local pizza place and say, “Send me some ketogenic pizza, please.” There are great replacements for pizza and things that people love. Pasta is a little tricky because yeah, okay fine, zucchini noodles are never gonna taste pasta but if you put the right sauce on them, they’re still great.

O: You don’t even have gluten free pasta because it’s carb, you don’t have rice. What don’t you have in your diet?

C: I don’t eat grains, most grains are not in my diet.

O: Not even quinoa?

C: Not even quinoa. I keep quinoa around sometimes for my kids, I don’t eat it. It would send my blood sugar up too much. I avoid grains, I avoid sugar obviously, I don’t eat soy really anymore, I don’t have strict issues on it but I do have heard some and read enough things that make think that it’s a little bit iffy as a protein source. It’s unfortunate, one of the things that I would love to eat is pineapple and I can’t eat very high carbs, sugary fruits anymore. I can eat some berries but sugary fruits, I can’t really. That makes me sad because I used to love fruit.

O: I’m so sorry. On top of it, we just found this amazing Thai restaurant, the best ever. I’ve travelled the world, I spent two months in Thailand. I know good Thai food and that was good Thai food. I had mint noodles and he had pineapple rice. You have those cravings and you go and you eat with other people that eat those carb rich dishes, what do you do? How do you psychologically handle it?

C: I think you get to see for me, it’s second nature now so it doesn’t bother me. People are apologizing to me and I’m like, “No, you’re fine, it’s totally fine.” I don’t have huge cravings anymore, it’s more nostalgia than craving. It’s like, “I used to be able to eat pineapple.” I might have a tiny piece but I don’t feel bad about it because I love the food that I actually eat. I think that’s one of the things I was trying to tell people with this book, was that I love the food that I get to eat. I get to eat steak with butter and bacon without feeling guilty that a lot of people feel guilt about it. I’m like, “I’m fine, I’m perfectly happy with this meal.” I think what I would do at a restaurant that serves lots of yummy things, I’d pick out the best of the things that I think I could eat and just enjoy them.

O: Did you ever have recipes that failed completely?

C: God, yes.

O: Tell me the story.

C: Coconut flour is a great thing. You can make some amazing things with it but it’s a very strange thing and it doesn’t work. If you’re used to baking with flour that’s based on wheat, coconut flour does not work the same way at all. There’s a learning curve. It takes a lot of eggs to make it rise and not be super, super densed. When you first start using it, you’re like, “There’s no way I can take this many eggs.” I think one time, really early on, I was trying to make brownies. I was following a recipe but trying to adapt it to my own tastes. I was like, “There’s no way I can take these many eggs.” I think it took six and eight and I put in half of that. It was like a hockey puck. It was probably one of the few things I actually had to throw away. Most of the time, if something doesn’t work perfectly, okay fine, it doesn’t look as pretty or it didn’t turn into the shape I want but it still tastes okay and we could eat it. There are very few things that actually I had to totally throw out into the garbage and that was one of them, they wouldn’t even taste like brownies, they were gross. Don’t follow my example, listen to people when they say coconut flour takes that many eggs.

O: How was your book tour?

C: It was so fun, it was a little exhausting.

O: At first, how did you plan it? How did you know where you’re going? How did you do the marketing?

C: I looked at my statistics online on my blog and looked at where my highest concentration of readers like demographics were.

O: Where are they?

C: Texas is definitely one of them, the Pacific Northwest has a good like California, California was not but Pacific Northwest. I live in the Pacific Northwest, because of that it was easy to do both Portland and Seattle. I have a lot of readers in Ohio but I don’t know Ohio so I chose Chicago. I think that was probably my one error place that I probably should’ve gone to Ohio. I have a lot of readers in New York City but as a first time author, that’s really hard to book so we didn’t. I have a lot of readers in the Boston area. I used to live in Boston so I happily went there and spent some time with friends too. It was really my demographics but I do feel like I missed some areas that I would’ve liked to go to that I do have more readers but I had to make decisions. I have three kids at home, I can’t disappear for two months.

O: You went there and then what? All of a sudden you’re an author, people come to you, what does it feel like? What surprised you?

C: My first one which was in Portland since I live here was good but it wasn’t fantastic. I think that’s because I felt like I had to get up there and give them a show. I didn’t love that part, I didn’t like hearing myself talk that much. It ended up turning into a great conversation. What I realized, once I opened the floor to question, the give and take of questions worked better. The signing, I realized that I like to talk to everybody when I sign it, I don’t like to sit there and just sign my name. I talk to each person like, “Why are you doing this? Why are you here?” When I got to Seattle, I basically threw out my notes, wrote a quick couple ideas, the points that I wanted to hit and said, “I’m not gonna talk very long because the best part of this is talking to you.” That worked so much better. That’s the format I used for the rest of it and at every single location including Chicago which had the lowest turnout impart because the cavs were playing a playoffs game. Because of that, it was a low turnout but I still engaged the 12 people that I had in having a question and answer period that the bookstore said, “That was great. For such a low turnout, you guys had an amazing discussion.” It was really fun. I marketed like crazy. I did an event page for each stop and I put it all out over Facebook and my blog and things like that. I definitely did market those events and I’ve learned how I would do it again in the future too.

O: Did you hear some stories that surprised you?

C: One thing that I really liked seeing and I was just delighted by this was in a couple locations, I saw partner couples, couples who do it together. It just struck me how much more success they have when they do it together as opposed to someone who’s decided they need to do this for their health and their partner’s just completely not onboard.

O: How can I do it together with my vegetarian husband?

C: I don’t know.

O: I am doomed to fail.

C: No, you’re not doomed to fail. I happen to know your husband. It’s not like he’s sabotaging your diet, there are people who do that.

O: He used to give me a hard time for eating meat. We got over that hurdle.

C: The point is you’re both trying to eat healthfully. I think what strikes me, and this happens in couples, where the husband is just like, “No, I like my potatoes and my bread.” I’m saying the husband but it could be the wife too. They’re really unsupportive of the person’s choice to live a healthier life. That’s I think where you really struggle.

O: That’s a relationship issue already.

C: That points to bigger relationship issues for sure.

O: You have to be supportive with your partner because if not, what’s the point of being in the toxic relationship where you’ll just poison each other, that’s not good. Do you have any tips for the holidays?

C: I have tons of tips, that would be finding the recipes. Number one tip is be prepared. The second tip that follows that is find the recipes that basically recreate what you love because you don’t wanna be messing out on stuffing at Thanksgiving. I have a really popular stuffing recipe on my blog. Being prepared of finding the things and going in advance so that you’re not sitting there at the family dinner being tempted by the stuffing and the mashed potatoes and you have your own options.

O: How do you make your stuffing, with almond flour?

C: I have a bread, it’s called the cheesy skillet bread that people love. One day I took it and cut it up and dried it out in the oven and turned it into regular stuffing. I just used the regular stuff that you would like celery and some sausage. It’s really, really tasty. I actually had a reader who showed me pictures, Canadian Thanksgiving was back at the beginning of the month. She showed me pictures of taking a regular stuffing and my stuffing to a family gathering and the only one that got finished was mine.

O: Last year’s Thanksgiving was two weeks before our wedding. I had my family staying with us and I had Stephan’s step mom and dad joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t grow up here, I never had anybody showing me how to make a turkey or what stuffing should taste like. I made turkey and stuffing and all sorts of veggies and Brussels sprouts. I just made it from scratch, first time I ever made it from recipes online. The food was off the hook, I’m so proud of myself, but never again.

C: Because it’s a lot of work.

O: Oh my God it’s so much work.

C: What I would say is if you’re going to somebody else’s house for Thanksgiving, at least bring the thing that you love the most. If you think you’re gonna miss out on stuffing, then make your own.

O: It was a stressful time too because it was two weeks before my wedding and I have guests, I was out of my mind, on the verge of breaking down. I was like, “There’s so much stress in my life right now in this freaking turkey.”

C: That’s why they also do a potluck style, make everybody else do something.

O: Next time, for sure. I’m like, “You’re doing this, you’re doing this. I’m doing the turkey, that’s it.” I made the turkey and then I made vegetarian stuffing and vegetarian options. It was a lot of work.

C: Those sort of things are a lot of work.

O: I’ve never done it before, I just decided, “Okay, I’m doing this dinner.” It’s not like I tried those recipes before, it was that day I did everything which was a little insane. What other holiday tips do you have?

C: I think I would say enjoy the holidays, don’t get so caught up. Obviously try not to derail your diet because that’s never a good idea and getting back on the horse is always hard, try not to take it also seriously, just enjoy it. Have fun with your family. Make it about the food but don’t make it all about the food, do family things, do activities so that you’re not just fully focused on the food and thinking, “When can I eat all that pie?”

O: It’s so easy. The illusion of people make it about the gift, people make it about the food, people make it about looking like a good host. At the end of the day, nobody really remembers what they ate. They can say, “It was good, it was bad.” Maybe vaguely remember it but at the end of the day, you’ll remember that time that you have with your family, you remember the smile, you remember how you felt.

C: For me this year is gonna be tough. My dad died last year before Christmas. We used to come to our place for Christmas when we lived in Massachusetts. Christmas is a little hard on my kids and we don’t have family in the Portland area. This year, we’re just gonna do something completely different, we’re going on a ski vacation. Instead of doing a bunch of gifts, it’s the skiing that the kids are getting for Christmas. We’re just excited to do that as a family. I think finding ways to make it, like you said, being about the family and being about the people that you’re close to and keeping them close is so important.

O: What are your three top tips to living a stellar life?

C: That would vary day to day, probably.

O: What are they today?

C: Loving what you do, I don’t know how people who work in jobs that they don’t love and just really struggle. Make it about finding something that you love to do. I’m excited to get up everyday and that’s good. Keeping the people that you love close, it’s very easy to get caught up in my work and I do very often. Usually I had a point where I’m like, “I’m not happy for the moment.” I just need to put it all away and spend time with my family. That brings me back to the joy of life. In everything, I’d say being the best that you can be. That doesn’t mean you have to compete with everybody and be the best person, I’m the best low carb blogger out there, which isn’t true. I just think that being the best that I can be in those things, doing the things. Sometimes I will say this, while doing the best job possible is very important to me, sometimes good enough is good enough. Realizing, “I don’t have to make this blog post absolutely perfect, I just wanna get it out there.” Taking a step back and going it doesn’t matter. Like you said, am I gonna be remembered for that one perfect blog post? No. Do I wanna spend five hours making it absolutely perfect? No. I wanna go pick up my kids from school and ask them how their day was.

O: That’s beautiful. Where can people find you?

C: I’m all over the place. You can find me on my blog, almost all the time, at All Day I Dream About Food. You can find me on Facebook with a Facebook page by the same name, I’m on Instagram as @fooddreamer, I’m on Twitter but I don’t really use it, I’m on Pinterest. I’m at home but you won’t find me here because I’m not gonna tell you where I live. My book, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles and a lot of smaller booksellers.

O: Get her book, her book is amazing.

C: Thank you so much, Orion. I really appreciate you saying that.

O: Your Pinterest is amazing, especially now before the holidays. If you wanna get some really good, good, good, great, yummy recipes, go there.

C: Absolutely, I love the holidays.

O: Thank you very much.

C: Thank you so much for having me.